SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Researchers in the Syracuse University College of Engineering and Computer Science have developed a material--a new kind of shape memory polymer (SMP)--that could have major implications for health care.

SMPs are soft, rubbery, "smart" materials that can change shape in response to external stimuli like temperature changes or exposure to light.

For example, they are ideal as cardiovascular stents because they can be one shape for surgical insertion and another once positioned in a blood vessel.

Along with collaborators at Bucknell University, Syracuse University researchers have designed an SMP that can change its shape in response to exposure to enzymes and is compatible with living cells.

Given these properties, it can respond to cellular activity like healing.

"The enzymatic sensitivity of the material allows it to respond directly to cell behavior," explains biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate Shelby L. Buffington.

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